Beautiful and brutal

I HAVE just come in from watching The Revenant, the film that everybody expects to finally land a Best Actor Oscar for Leonardo DiCaprio as the trapper who survives a bear attack and burial alive, and hunts down the man who killed his son and left him for dead.

Only when the film started did I discover that I had unintentionally chosen a screening that was sub-titled for the hard of hearing. I imagined what The Current Mrs Feeney would have had to say about this oversight. Fortunately for me, she was shopping with her sister.

It didn’t really matter that much, because some of the dialogue is in French, and more of it is in various native American languages, all of which would have required sub-titles for me to understand what was being said anyway.

Visually, The Revenant is extraordinarily good. There have been lots of stories about the extreme lengths that director Alejandro  G. Inarritu went to, filming only in natural light in remote and inhospitable locations in Canada and Argentina. The results of this bloody-mindedness are indeed stunning. This is a film of mountain and snow, of trees and wind, of river and fire.

So, will The Revenant mean 2016 is finally DiCaprio’s year? Very probably; however; obviously the role was hugely demanding physically. But I didn’t think it extended his acting capabilities beyond giving us his full repertoire of panting, groaning, screaming, retching and grunting.

He does them all with massive conviction. I’m just not convinced all of that adds up to an Oscar. Now co-star Tom Hardy is another matter. He has also been nominated for Best Supporting Actor. I thought his performance was brilliant.

The Revenant clearly wants to be a whole lot more than a beautiful but brutal revenge movie. There is a lot here too about rebirth and man’s relationship with nature. At one point, when DiCaprio’s character’s dead wife’s spirit floats above him and tells him that a strongly-rooted tree can withstand the fiercest storm, I feared we were straying into Lord of the Rings’ Galadriel territory.

But I quibble. This film is a visual and audio delight. It deserves all of its Oscar nominations.

Retired Bloke Rating VERY GOOD ****

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